United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION [DKTS. ## 24, 26, 28, 31]
RICHARD J. LEON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Yolonda Mack ("plaintiff or "Mack") brings
this action against Aspen of D.C., Inc. ("Aspen")
and Aspen's President and CEO, Brandy R. Butler
("Butler") (collectively, "defendants").
Mack alleges discrimination and retaliation in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2OOOe et seq., as well as failure to pay wages in
violation of D.C. Code § 32-1012. See generally
Compl. [Dkt. #1]. Currently pending before the Court is
defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. See
Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mot.") [Dkt.
# 26]. Having considered the record and relevant
case law, the defendants' motion is GRANTED.
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts
the evidence of the non-movant-here, Mack-and resolves all
genuine factual disputes in her favor. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.242, 255 (1986). A
non-movant's unsupported allegations, however, are not
sufficient to oppose admissible evidence put forward by the
party seeking summary judgment. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S.317, 324 (1986). With those principles
in mind, I recount the factual background of this dispute.
is a company that provides temporary staffing to federal,
state, and local government agencies as well as to private
sector companies. Defs.' Mot. Ex. 1, Aff. of Brandy
Butler ("Butler Aff") ¶ 3 [Dkt. # 26-2]. In
2010, Aspen secured a contract to provide temporary staffing
to the District of Columbia Department of General Services
("DGS"). Id. ¶ 4. The contract was
structured in one-year terms, renewable annually at the sole
discretion of DGS. Id. ¶¶4-5, 7-9. As
relevant here, the initial Aspen-DGS contract for Fiscal Year
2010 required Aspen to provide one temporary employee to
staff DGS's Eastern Market facility as an assistant
manager. Id. ¶¶ 5"6- Pursuant to that
requirement, Aspen placed Katrina Cuffey ("Cuffey")
in the assistant manager position. Id. Although her
title was assistant manager, Cuffey, curiously, had no
supervisory duties with respect to other employees.
Id. Those supervisory duties instead fell to Barry
Margeson, a permanent DGS employee. Id. ¶ 14;
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 2, Dep. of Yolanda Mack ("Mack
Dep.") 22:18-19 [Dkt. # 26-3].
2011, DGS revised the scope of work of its contract with
Aspen. Butler Aff. ¶ 11. In addition to the assistant
manager role, which continued to be occupied by Cuffey, DGS
requested that Aspen provide the Eastern Market facility with
another temporary employee to serve as an event coordinator.
Id. In September 2011, Aspen hired Mack to fill that
new event coordinator position. Id. ¶¶
11-12. Mack's employment agreement with Aspen informed
Mack that she was an at-will employee of Aspen-not DGS-and
that her employment could be terminated at any time.
See Def.'s Mot. Ex. 11 [Dkt. # 26-12]. As event
coordinator, Mack interacted with Cuffey a few days a week
regarding bookings at the Eastern Market facility and related
issues. See Mack Dep. 27:19-28:12.
events giving rise to this case began a few months after Mack
started in her role as event coordinator. At that time, as
Mack tells it, Cuffey began to subject Mack to inappropriate
sexual comments and advances. Mack recounts an incident in
late 2011 or early 2012 when Cuffey invited Mack to attend a
"swingers party" and, in the course of that
invitation, made crude remarks regarding the potential for
Mack and Cuffey to participate in sexual intercourse with
other Aspen employees. See Id. at 35:14-36:7,
47:14-21. In addition, Mack claims that Cuffey sent her a
sexually explicit text message in late 2011. See
Pl.'s Rule 56 Mot. Ex. 6, Deck of Yolonda Mack
("Mack Deck") ¶ 9 [Dkt. # 28-6]. Mack states
that Cuffey frequently remarked on the size of Mack's
breasts and asked if she could touch them. See Mack
Dep. 35:2-8, 38:12-15. The "final straw, "
according to Mack, was a late 2013 incident in which Cuffey
offered to pay Mack to have sex with Cuffey and an unknown
third person. Id. at 40:6-11, 52:5. In the month
following that incident, Mack says that she informed
defendant Butler of Cuffey's inappropriate sexual
behavior. See Pl.'s Rule 56 Mot. Ex. 3, at 21
[Dkt. # 28-3].
that same time, Mack also confided in an Eastern Market
maintenance worker regarding Cuffey's behavior. Mack Dep.
50:1-15. As it turns out, however, Mack's confidant was
himself in a relationship with Cuffey and promptly informed
Cuffey of Mack's comments. Id. at 50:19-51:2. On
February 8, 2014, Cuffey confronted Mack outside of Eastern
Market, stating that she heard Mack had "a problem"
with her. Id. at 58:6-12. Although Mack simply
walked away from the conversation, the confrontation drove
her to file a formal, written complaint with Aspen management
in February 2014. Id. at 53:l-3, 58:15-20;see
also Defs.' Mot.Ex.3 [Dkt.#26-4]. It is undisputed
that Mack experienced no inappropriate sexual comments or
behavior following the filing of her formal, written
complaint. Mack Dep. 59:4.
Aspen's receipt of the complaint, Aspen immediately began
to conduct an investigation into the allegations made by
Mack. Pl.'s Rule 56 Mot. Ex. 4, at 5 ("March 2014
Report") [Dkt. # 28-4]. As part of the investigation,
Aspen management interviewed Cuffey, Mack, and other
individuals employed at Eastern Market. See March
2014 Report. Notably, during Mack's interview, the Aspen
interviewer asked whether Mack wanted Aspen to implement any
"remedial measure[s]" to change the work
environment. Mack Dep. 97:18. Mack responded by noting that
she thought that things "should be good" once Aspen
spoke with Cuffey and that Mack was "okay with moving
past all of this" in part because she did not
"really have to see" Cuffey at Eastern Market.
Id. at 98:7-14. After the investigation was
complete, Aspen issued a report of its findings and
recommendations in late March 2014. See March 2014
Report. The report noted that Aspen could not
"corroborate either the complainant's allegations of
sexual harassment, or the respondent['s] denial of such
behavior." Id. at 2. Yet the report
acknowledged that there were communications between Mack and
Cuffey that, if substantiated, had the potential to create a
"hostile work environment." Id. The report
also observed that both Mack and Cuffey gave "individual
assurances" that they were "willing to continue to
work at Eastern Market and believe they can do so
effectively." Id. To prevent any further
misconduct, however, the report required Mack and Cuffey to
complete sexual harassment training. Id. Aspen's
vice president, Boyd, also informed Cuffey "that sexual
harassment in the workplace would not be tolerated" and
that she "would be terminated" should Boyd learn of
any additional complaints. Defs.' Mot. Ex. 4, Aff. of
Harrison Boyd ("Boyd Aff") ¶ 7 [Dkt. #26-5].
was not satisfied with the conclusions set forth in the
report. During an April 2014 meeting where Aspen
representatives and Mack met to discuss the report, Mack
indicated that she may have additional evidence to
substantiate her claims of Cuffey's sexual harassment.
Pl.'s Rule 56 Mot. Ex. 3, at 18 [Dkt. # 28-3]. After
considering Mack's assertions, Aspen agreed to allow Mack
to supplement the internal investigation record with her
additional evidence. Id. Mack responded by providing
Aspen with a sexually explicit image-an image that Mack
claims was sent to her by Cuffey via text message. Mack Decl.
¶ 9. Aspen considered the additional information and
issued a finalized report in July 2014. See
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 5 ("July 2014 Report") [Dkt. #
July report, Aspen reiterated its findings that Cuffey's
communications had the potential to create a hostile work
environment. Id. It also determined that the
sexually explicit image had indeed been sent from Cuffey to
Mack, but was transmitted on "personal cell phones after
normal work hours." Id. at 2. Nonetheless, the
report notes that Cuffey had completed her required sexual
harassment training, and that Aspen "advised Ms. Cuffey
in writing that the behavior alleged by Ms. Mack is
unacceptable and against ADC corporate policies and
procedures and that any further behavior of this nature
and/or acts of retribution would result in further
disciplinary actions." Id. at 3. The report
also stated that an Aspen representative "will continue
to monitor the worksite" to ensure "improved
working conditions" for Mack. Id.
the time of her formal complaint through the end of the
investigation, Mack claims that she experienced various
retaliatory actions on the part of Aspen and DGS staff,
including increased monitoring by Aspen personnel and
questioning about an incident in which cocaine was found in
an office at Eastern Market. See Mack Dep.
73:20-74:12, 76:5-77:1. Ultimately, Mack's position was
phased out as part of a DGS effort to consolidate operations
and cut costs. Butler Aff. ¶ 15. In particular, DGS
requested that Aspen bid on a new contract that provided only
for the retention of the assistant manager position-not
Mack's event coordinator position. Id.;
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 12 [Dkt. # 26-13], As a result of
DGS's alteration of the contract terms, Mack's
position at Eastern Market was eliminated effective at the
start of Fiscal Year 2014. Mack was informed of that fact in
September 2014, and worked through mid-October 2014. Butler
Aff. ¶ 16. According to Aspen's Human Resources and
Accounting supervisor, Haile Eyob Nessibu, Mack's
paycheck was mailed to her last known address after Mack
failed to pick up the paycheck at the office. Defs.' Mot.
Ex. 13, Aff. of Haile Eyob Nessibu ("Nessibu Aff")
¶¶ 5, 7 [Dkt. # 26-14]. Mack, for her part, claims
that she never received her final paycheck and, more broadly,
that the elimination of her position was retaliatory. Mack
Deck ¶ 11.
on the above events, Mack filed a Title VII hostile work
environment and retaliation complaint with the EEOC in
January 2015. Defs.' Mot. Ex. 10 ("Mack EEOC
Compl.") [Dkt. # 26-11]. After receiving notice of her
right to sue in court, Mack filed this judicial action
against Aspen and Butler. In her complaint, Mack alleges
discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII; she
also presses one claim for failure to pay wages in violation
of the D.C. Code. See generally Compl. Currently
before the Court is defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment as well as the parties' dueling motions stemming
from discovery and deadline disputes. I now turn to the
various issues presented by those motions, ultimately
concluding that defendants are entitled to summary judgment.
defendants have moved for summary judgment. Summary judgment
may be granted 'if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A fact is "material" if it "may affect
the outcome of the litigation." Montgomery v.
Risen,875 F.3d 709, 713 (D.C. Cir. 2017). A dispute is
"genuine" if "the evidence is such that a